Many Indians are upset at Shubhankar missing the cut but, missing the cut, especially at the first attempt at the Masters is really no shame. Even Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player have missed the cut here and that too after winning the Green Jacket; Sergio Garcia too has just done it. Tiger and Mickelson squeaked into the cut line but for a while were written off by commentators; it required worse performances by those who had not yet completed their rounds for these two elder statesmen to play over the weekend. Shubhankar was never going to do brilliantly here on his first attempt, and that too without several practice rounds here with great players who could guide him through the pitfalls that abound on this course. Even the best have to “learn“ this course and someone like Shubhankar who has not yet had extensive experience of playing on the PGA tour, has to learn America as well to feel comfortable. Life on the PGA tour is lonely but here is a truly international arena where the competition is keenest, where
money is the highest, fame and visibility is the greatest and memories (except when one is continuously at the top) are the shortest.
The good news is that, irrespective what Indian scribes, families, friends and well wishers may emotively opine, top international professional golfers and commentators have received his game and poise well. I interviewed Brendan Chamblee, the famous ex pro golfer turned ace TV commentator, writer and coach, on this subject and he expressed considerable praise for his swing and his moves. He felt that here was the first player from India who, being only 21 years old, had at least twenty years to make a real mark on the USPGA tour and thereby to open out the game throughout India and have many young persons to follow his lead. He said he would watch him very carefully as this boy could go far and stay there for a while. Gary Player, a strong votary of rising talent in Asia, is particularly impressed with not only his swing, but also his demeanour and ability to conduct himself publicly. He visits India occasionally and looks forward to conversations with Shubhankar which might benefit the young man in his budd
ing career. Gary went on to say that not making the cut at his first time at the Masters could be the best gift to Shubhankar as such adversity teaches one better than initial success. There were other commentators also who were complimentary!
So, there we are. A young man, highly talented, continuously thankful to all the forces that have presently shaped him, humble in manner and approach, respectful to elders, having a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, brimming with self confidence, always eager to learn and advance, fortunate in solid family support, and to give back to the game. These are several of the ingredients for success.
However, right now his target must be to get invited back to the Masters by crashing into the top fifty in the world barrier and thereby getting an automatic invite. The world wishes that
The great disappointment of today’s game, aside from Tiger and Phil still not showing any colour even in such benign conditions, was that Marc Leishman, the talented and much touted Australian, was the only one among the leaders who did not advance at all. Playing in the final pair, he was overshadowed by the singular prowess of Patrick Reed who remained patient through to the 7th hole when things suddenly started going his way. Chipping in for his second eagle of the day on the 15th, he rode a superior game to lead by three shots over McIlroy (who had one of three rounds of 65 today) and eight over Leishman.
It would seem that the tournament belongs to Reed but McIlroy has thrown out an unusual challenge publicly...that he was there to spoil Reed’ s victory parade on the Sunday. He could do it too as playing with Rory brings some special pressures on the other, especially if Rory gets off to a hot start. He has kept patient, playing the course and subsuming his normal aggression so that he would not suffer the fate of the too ambitious. Unless these two don’t score well, the tournament is just between these two as one should consider only those within seven shots off the lead as potential challengers; the chances of both the leaders falling down in the projected benign conditions are very low.
Nonetheless, the scene is set for yet another fantastic finish; nothing is over until the lady sings and that only happens at the end of the final act.
What a tournament this is indeed.
I predict (dangerous occupation) that this is Rory’s moment for creating history by winning a career grand slam.
Aut vincere aut mori!